April 22, 2020

Living Environmental Document, Sustainable Airport Manual (SAM) Debuts Fourth Update on 50th Anniversary of Earth Day

CDA Media Relations    773.686.3700

CHICAGO - The Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA) is pleased to announce the release of Version 4.0 of its industry-leading Sustainable Airport Manual (SAM). The SAM provides sustainability guidance to all airport design and construction projects, as well as operations and maintenance activities, for CDA’s facilities and for CDA’s concessionaires and tenants.

It is only fitting that this update is released on the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, which is credited with launching the modern environmental movement and led to passage of landmark environmental laws in the United States, including the Clean Air, Clean Water and Endangered Species Acts.

The SAM is the first of its kind in the U.S., offering airport-specific sustainability guidance. The SAM is not only applicable at O’Hare and Midway International Airports but can be used by any other airport worldwide. The manual is designed to function as a “Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) for Airports” and was developed with input from over 200 stakeholders representing airports, airlines, government agencies, the sustainability industry, and community groups.

The SAM is endorsed by: 

  • S. Green Building Council (USGBC)
  • Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)
  • S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) 
Sustainable Airport Manual (SAM)

The SAM also includes the first airport rating system for sustainability projects. To date, 291 ratings have been completed for O’Hare and Midway projects. 

“With our development programs shifting focus from the airfield to the terminal facilities, we will continue to incorporate sustainable guidance into all design, construction, operations, and maintenance projects for CDA facilities and for concessionaires and tenants”, said CDA Commissioner Jamie L. Rhee. “I want to thank everyone for their time and feedback to help us to ensure that the SAM remains relevant, innovative, user-friendly, and as universal as possible.” 

The CDA has updated the SAM to enhance its focus on sustainability strategies for terminal and hotel space. Highlights include incorporation of the Integrated Design Process, enhanced guidance for Electric Vehicle Charging Stations, Building-Level Water and Energy Metering, Dynamic Signage, enhanced strategies to minimize solar heat gain, and a specialized focus on Occupant Well-Being. SAM’s strategies will continue to be incorporated into all O’Hare 21 design, construction, operations, and maintenance projects for CDA facilities and for concessionaires and tenants. 

O’Hare 21 is an historic plan by the City of Chicago and its airline partners to transform O’Hare International Airport with new facilities and modern infrastructure that will keep Chicago-O’Hare connected to the world. The centerpiece of O’Hare 21 is an $8.5 billion investment by the airlines that will expand O’Hare’s capacity and connectivity and improve customer service at passenger terminal facilities. 

Over the next decade, this program will create tens of thousands of jobs and contracting opportunities for the region, deliver a new international terminal, 25 % more gate space, and a more streamlined passenger experience from curb to gate. No local or state tax dollars will be used in these capital improvements. 

The CDA is highly regarded as an industry pioneer and leader of the airport “green” and “sustainable” effort.  It has made substantial progress since the CDA’s Sustainability Program began in 2003. A myriad of benefits and firsts were implemented at O’Hare and they have served as an example to other airports around the world. Each and every one of the CDA’s policies have made a positive difference and impacted efficiency in O’Hare’s airport operations, the environment and the community. 

This year marks the 11th anniversary of the CDA’s SAM, which began as sustainable airport design and construction guidelines in 2003. In 2009, it was expanded to include sustainability guidance for Planning projects and Operations/Maintenance activities for both CDA and its concessionaires and tenants. The result of the SAM’s guidance has led O’Hare to have a record number of green roofs at an airport, including one of the largest in the world at an airport. 

Additional results include encouragement of LEED-Certified buildings at O’Hare and Midway, the CDA’s industry-leading Green Concessions Policy, a permanent grazing herd and an apiary at O’Hare, an indoor aeroponic garden at O’Hare, offsite wetlands restoration, alternative-fueled vehicles, and strategies to enhance energy efficiency and optimization. The SAM has allowed for a wide swath of airport sustainability achievements that benefit the travelling public and our local and regional communities. 

SAM v4.0 is online at www.flychicago.com/community/environment/sam               

Learn more about the CDA’s Sustainability initiatives at www.flychicago.com/community/environment.



About the Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA)

The Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA) is self-supporting, using no local or state tax dollars for operations or capital improvements at O’Hare and Midway International Airports. Chicago’s airports offer service to over 260 nonstop destinations worldwide, including 47 foreign countries, combined. Together, Chicago’s airports serve more than 100 million passengers each year, and generate approximately $60 billion in annual economic activity for the region. Please visit www.flychicago.com to learn more about the Chicago Department of Aviation.

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